Impeachment: Ondo assembly halts proceedings against deputy governor after CJ’s letter

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The Ondo State House of Assembly has suspended its impeachment proceedings against Deputy Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa following the refusal of the Chief Judge of the state, Olusegun Odusola, to set up a panel for the exercise.

The house took the decision at its sitting in Akure on Thursday.

It had earlier vowed to proceed with the process despite an order of the Federal High Court, citing sections of the constitution forbidding the interference of the courts in an impeachment process at a legislative house.

The spokesperson of the assembly, Olatunji Oshati, said on Friday in a telephone interview with bellnews that the lawmakers will comply with the order and halt further proceedings on the impeachment.

“This is to show that it is not about witch-hunting, it is about carrying out our oversight functions,” Mr Oshati said.

“We have considered the letter which is everywhere in the public domain and we are halting the impeachment process until the order of the Federal High Court is vacated.

“It is not about being arrogant with power, it is about holding public officers accountable.

“It also shows that the process of impeachment transcends the monopoly of the legislature as we can see that the judiciary has stalled it.”

The House of Assembly had on 6 October directed the chief judge to set up a panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct brought against Mr Aiyedatiwa by nine lawmakers.

CJ rejects directive

Mr Odusola replied in the letter that he could not comply with the directive because of the order of the Federal High Court issued in Abuja.

The court had granted the order at the request of the deputy governor that the impeachment proceedings be paused until the court has determined his case against the exercise.

The chief judge in the letter to the Speaker of the Assembly, Oladiji Olamide, with ref no. CROD/1123/V.3/ dated October 6, 2023, cited Section 287 (3) of the Constitution as the reason why he cannot act on the letter from the House.

In the letter titled, “Re: Letter Of Request To Set Up Investigation Panel Pursuant To Section 188 [5] Of The 1999 Constitution (As Amended),” Mr Odusola said despite being mindful of section 188, here was restrained by the order of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

“Your letter reference NO: ODHA/98/253/406 of October 3, 2023 in respect of the above matter refers. I wish to inform you that on 28 September 2023, I was served with an Order of interim injunction granted by the Federal High Court, Abuja, Coram: Hon Justice Emeka Nwite in Suit No: FHC/AB/CS/1294/2023 dated September 26, 2023 in respect of this subject matter.

“Order 4 therein restrains the Chief Judge of Ondo State from ‘constituting any seven-man panel at the instance of the 4th Defendant Respondent in respect of the complaint of the plaintiff’ among others, (Please find attached hereto a copy of the order).

Kogi AD

“I am not unmindful of S. 188(10) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended which provides as follows: ‘No proceedings or determination of the Panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to such proceeding or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court’.

“Notwithstanding the above provision, a Court order is binding until set aside either by a Court of coordinate jurisdiction or by an appellate court.

APC reconciliation committee
Meanwhile, a peace committee set by the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, is expected to turn in its report on Friday.

The committee was tasked with seeking grounds for reconciliation between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and Mr Aiyedatiwa. A rift between the two is generally seen as the catalyst for the bid by the state lawmakers to remove the deputy governor from office.

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